Kenny Smith blasts 'predatorial' NCAA: 'Men preying on 17-year-olds'

There has been no dearth of outcry against the NCAA recently with athletes and media alike criticizing the billion-dollar organization for its practice of profiting off of unpaid athletes.

But few have come in as hot as TNT analyst and former UNC guard Kenny Smith, who will work again as part of Turner’s studio coverage of the NCAA Tournament this year.

He spoke at the NCAA Tournament media day and blasted the “predatorial” practice of the NCAA’s pursuit of young athletes.

“The rules are creating the predatorial environment,” Smith told reporters. “If that was anything other than sport, if it was, people would have been locked up. But because it’s sport, it took them, it’s taking longer. If it was anything other than sport, where 50-year-old men were preying on 17-year-olds — come on.”

Whoa, that’s fire. And probably not a message the NCAA is stoked about hearing from one of the faces of its marquee event for the next three weeks.

But it’s something the NCAA has invited, both in its greed and stubbornness to evolve how it approaches student-athletes along with partnering with a very outspoken “Inside the NBA” crew that generally sees Smith as the reserved voice.

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Charles Barkley apparently wasn’t with Smith at the media event, but we would have loved to hear his reaction to Smith’s hot take.

Related: The most disappointing NCAA-to-NBA busts: 

11 PHOTOS
These NCAA Most Outstanding Players turned out to be the most average NBA players ever
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These NCAA Most Outstanding Players turned out to be the most average NBA players ever

2010: Kyle Single, Duke

NBA Stats: 7.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.1 APG

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

2009: Wayne Ellington, North Carolina

NBA Stats: 7.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.1 APG

(Photo by Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

2008: Mario Chalmers, Kansas

NBA Stats: 9 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.5 RPG

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

2007: Corey Brewer, Florida

NBA Stats: 10 PPG, 3 RPG, 1.7 APG

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2004: Emeka Okafor, UConn

NBA Stats: 12.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 0.9 APG

(Photo by M. David Leeds/Getty Images)

2002: Juan Dixon, Maryland

NBA Stats: 8.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.8 APG

(Jamie Squire/ESPN/Getty Images. Digital Image)

2001: Shane Battier, Duke

NBA Stats: 8.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 APG

(Andy Lyons /Allsport)

1996: Tony Delk, Kentucky

NBA Stats: 9.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.9 APG

(Al Bello via Getty Images)

1995: Ed O'Bannon, UCLA

NBA Stats: 5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.8 APG

(Allsport USA/ALLSPORT)

1994: Corliss Williamson, Arkansas

NBA Stats: 11.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.2 APG

(Getty)

1992: Bobby Hurley, Duke

NBA Stats: 3.8 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 3.3 APG

(Jonathan Daniel via Getty Images)

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But Smith wasn’t done. He continued to lobby for NCAA athletes to unionize, a topic the NCAA has officially broached in draconian fashion before.

“It’s basically taxation without representation because they’re making rules for a 17-year-old coming in, and he’s not represented there by anyone,” Smith said of the NCAA.

“There’s no representation. That’s why the NBA Players Association was formed, players unions were formed. That’s why those unions were formed — to have representation before you make rules for me that I have to abide by. How can I participate and how can it be fair if there’s no representation? So whatever rules, I think they said there’s 4,600 rules in the NCAA guideline book, and none of them were represented by those kids.”

The NCAA has always invited criticism, but nothing like the fire it’s facing now as the spotlight readies to shine its brightest. With the FBI probing allegations of rampant corruption, athletes feeling more empowered than ever and a general social environment fed up with abuse of power, Smith’s will not be the last prominent voice we hear taking on the NCAA this March.

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